That's Pretty Cool

I have to say I'm impressed with the Zalman 9900 CPU heatsink and fan I invested in this afternoon. I've been having poor performance with my 9700 and my lackadaisical thermal compound skills. So I've been wondering what to do about it. I've tightened the screws around my heatsink more than once. This is no small feat considering that the Zalman 9700 contains about 150 razor-sharp copper fins organized in a radial pattern around the fan. I've bled for this project on multiple occasions.

So after all the tightening, retightening, undoing, repasting, taking the motherboard out of the case, taking the video card out to get the motherboard out of the case, and so on and so on, I finally caved and got a newer, more expensive heatsink.

Not content with a new heatsink, I also invested in this legendary compound called "Arctic Silver 5". It's recommended by my one coworker who is entirely too blase about the fact that he's been winning the bitter ongoing CPU temperature rivalry I spontaneously decided one day that we had between us. Arctic Silver is apparently the Cadillac of thermal grease and has nigh magical properties. 3.5 grams costs about eight dollars.

I squirted a big gob of it on my chip as directed and clamped the new 9900 on. After debugging the mysterious issue of my machine power cycling itself whenever it moved, I was able to get it steady enough to run some benchmarks. Currently I'm seeing my cores run at 43C, 33C, 35C, and 37C when idle ( less than 5% CPU utilization), and 53C, 43C, 47C, and 50C when each core is sustaining 100% CPU utilization.

By comparison, my old heatsink and grease were giving me the hotter of those two measurements even when running idle. In truth, I think the problem was due more to the grease than to the heatsink, but I'm much happier with the 9900's mounting bracket than the 9700's. The screws are actually located where you can reach them, and without guaranteeing that you're going to turn your knuckles into shredded cheese.

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